Acts 12: Divine Intervention

What political factors might have existed to prompt King Herod Agrippa I to oppress the followers of Jesus?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Acts 12:1 During this time, King Herod Agrippa began to persecute prominent members of the church
12:2 and had James, the brother of John, executed.
12:3 After seeing how much this action pleased the Jewish leaders, Herod ordered Peter’s arrest during Passover.
King James
Acts 12:1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church.
12:2 And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.
12:3 And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.)

Why do you think James, the brother of John, was executed and not James, the brother of Jesus, or one of the other apostles?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Acts 12:1 During this time, King Herod Agrippa began to persecute prominent members of the church
12:2 and had James, the brother of John, executed.
King James
Acts 12:1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church.
12:2 And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.

What benefit might Herod have anticipated in arresting Peter during Passover instead of at another time?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Acts 12:3 After seeing how much this action pleased the Jewish leaders, Herod ordered Peter’s arrest during Passover.
King James
Acts 12:3 And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.)

Why did Herod want to wait until after Passover for Peter’s execution?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Acts 12:4 Peter was seized and held in prison with sixteen soldiers to guard him in shifts of four. Herod intended to make him a public example like he had with James, right after the festival.
King James
Acts 12:4 And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.

Why would so many soldiers be needed to guard Peter in prison?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Acts 12:4 Peter was seized and held in prison with sixteen soldiers to guard him in shifts of four. Herod intended to make him a public example like he had with James, right after the festival.
King James
Acts 12:4 And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.

While Peter was in prison, people were praying. What would they have expected to happen if God didn’t intervene? For how many days might they have prayed?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Acts 12:5 While Peter was in prison, the church was fervently praying for him.
King James
Acts 12:5 Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.

Chained between two soldiers, how comfortable do you think Peter was, sleeping on the prison floor?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Acts 12:6 The night before Herod was to bring him before the people, Peter was sleeping, chained between two soldiers, with two more soldiers guarding the prison door.
King James
Acts 12:6 And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.

When the angel entered the prison and Peter was asleep, who could have known that the angel appeared in bright light?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Acts 12:7 An angel of the Lord appeared in bright light and nudged Peter’s side, saying, “Quick. Get up.” And the shackles fell from his wrists.
King James
Acts 12:7 And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.

What might the state of the two prison guards have been at the time when Peter was freed from his shackles?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Acts 12:7 An angel of the Lord appeared in bright light and nudged Peter’s side, saying, “Quick. Get up.” And the shackles fell from his wrists.
King James
Acts 12:7 And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.

How long do you think it took Peter to get dressed and leave?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Acts 12:8 “Put on your sandals, grab your coat, and follow me.”
King James
Acts 12:8 And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.

How could Peter think his escape was a vision and not real?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Acts 12:9 So Peter followed the angel out of the prison, thinking he was seeing a vision, unaware that this was actually happening.
King James
Acts 12:9 And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision.

Why do you think the two guards at the door didn’t stop Peter?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Acts 12:10 After passing the two guards, they came to the iron gate that blocked their entering the city. Of its own accord, the gate opened. As soon as they had gone down the street, the angel left.
King James
Acts 12:10 When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.

By what means might the prison gate have opened? How would you describe the angel’s departure?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Acts 12:10 After passing the two guards, they came to the iron gate that blocked their entering the city. Of its own accord, the gate opened. As soon as they had gone down the street, the angel left.
King James
Acts 12:10 When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.

At what point do you think Peter realized that he wasn’t dreaming?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Acts 12:11 When Peter realized he wasn’t dreaming, he thought, This is real. God sent his angel to deliver me from Herod, saving me from what the Jewish leaders would have done to me.
King James
Acts 12:11 And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.

On the way to the house where people were praying, what might Peter have been thinking?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Acts 12:12 Where should he go? He went to the house of Mary the mother of John Mark, where many had gathered to pray.
King James
Acts 12:12 And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.

What do you think Peter had to say when the young woman saw him at the door?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Acts 12:13 He knocked on the door of the outside entrance, and a young woman named Rhoda came to see who was there.
King James
Acts 12:13 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda.

How could Rhoda have seen who was at the door, but did not let him in?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Acts 12:14 Thrilled at hearing Peter’s voice, she didn’t open the door but ran to give everyone the good news.
King James
Acts 12:14 And when she knew Peter’s voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate.

What does it say about their faith when the people who were praying didn’t believe it possible that Peter was at the door? Who did they think it was?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Acts 12:15 That’s impossible,” they said. “Peter is in prison.”
“No,” she said, “it was Peter’s voice.”
“Then you must have heard his angel,” they said.
King James
Acts 12:15 And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.

How do you think the people felt when they greeted Peter?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Acts 12:16 Meanwhile, Peter was still knocking on the door. When they opened the door and saw him, they were amazed.
King James
Acts 12:16 But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished.

How long might Peter have spent at the house, explaining what had happened and giving instructions? When he left, where could he have gone?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Acts 12:17 He raised his hand to calm their excitement so he could tell them how the Lord had delivered him from prison. “Go tell James, the Lord’s brother, what has happened,” he said, “as well as others in the church.” Then he left for another place.
King James
Acts 12:17 But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go shew these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place.

At some point, the two soldiers next to Peter realized their prisoner was missing. Later, the two soldiers at the door learned that he was gone. How would you describe the conversations that must have taken place?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Acts 12:18 Early the next morning, shouting was heard in the prison as soldiers had to answer for how Peter could be missing.
King James
Acts 12:18 Now as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers, what was become of Peter.

How do you think Herod reacted to hearing that Peter was missing? What might he have thought about the responses to his interrogation?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Acts 12:19 After Herod asked for Peter to be brought from the prison and was told he wasn’t there, he interrogated the soldiers and ordered their punishment. Then he left Judea to stay in Caesarea for a while.
King James
Acts 12:19 And when Herod had sought for him, and found him not, he examined the keepers, and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judaea to Caesarea, and there abode.

What reasons could Herod have had for not liking the people of Tyre and Sidon?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Acts 12:20 He hated the people of Tyre and Sidon, so they sought support from his servant Blastus, desiring peace, because they depended on Judea for food.
King James
Acts 12:20 And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon: but they came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus the king’s chamberlain their friend, desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king’s country.

Herod Agrippa I ruled (41–44 AD) under the dominion of Claudius Caesar (41–54 AD). Therefore, the famine in Judea could not have preceded 41 AD, and the abundance of food must have been in 44 AD, just preceding the king’s death. What does this say about climate change?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Acts 11:28 Prompted by the Holy Spirit, the prophet Agabus stood to speak, saying a severe famine was coming upon the earth. This happened during the reign of Claudius Caesar,
11:29 so the Christians in Antioch gave whatever they could and sent relief to their brothers and sisters in Judea.
12:20 He hated the people of Tyre and Sidon, so they sought support from his servant Blastus, desiring peace, because they depended on Judea for food.
King James
Acts 11:28 And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.
11:29 Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea.
12:20 And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon: but they came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus the king’s chamberlain their friend, desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king’s country.

What might have been the content of Herod’s message when he spoke to the people in need of food?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Acts 12:21 So a meeting was arranged and Herod came before them in royal attire. He sat upon his throne and spoke to them.
12:22 The people shouted, “We’re hearing the voice of a god, not man.”
King James
Acts 12:21 And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them.
12:22 And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man.

Luke’s description of what happened in the death of Herod Agrippa I resembles Josephus’s description of how Herod the Great died. Do you think Josephus was right, Luke was right, or both kings died in similar ways?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Acts 12:23 Herod accepted their praise and gave no glory to God, so the angel of the Lord immediately struck him with disease. He was eaten up with worms and died.
King James
Acts 12:23 And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.

How might Herod’s death have affected the spread of Christianity in the region?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Acts 12:24 Then God’s word spread among the people and continued to increase.
King James
Acts 12:24 But the word of God grew and multiplied.

What do you suppose happened in Jerusalem to prompt John Mark to join Saul and Barnabas when they went back to Antioch?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Acts 12:25 After Barnabas and Saul finished their mission in Jerusalem, they returned to Antioch, this time with John Mark.
King James
Acts 12:25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark.